x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Toro Rosso play down talks of a UAE-based takeover

Toro Rosso have denied suggestions of a potential UAE-based takeover following a third company with links to the country sponsoring the Italian team.

Cepsa, a Spanish oil firm, owned by the Abu Dhabi government, are sponsoring the Toro Rosso team.
Cepsa, a Spanish oil firm, owned by the Abu Dhabi government, are sponsoring the Toro Rosso team.

MONZA, ITALY // The team principal of Formula One's Scuderia Toro Rosso has dismissed suggestions of a UAE-based takeover the day after the Italian manufacturers announced a sponsorship deal with Cepsa, a Spanish-based oil company owned by the Abu Dhabi government.

Cepsa, owned by International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC), the Abu Dhabi government investment company, is the third Abu Dhabi-owned company to sponsor the five-year-old team.

The company will display their logo on the team's two cars and race suits alongside Falcon Private Bank and Nova Chemicals, both of which are also owned by the UAE capital's investment arm. IPIC also own a stake in carmaker Daimler through Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund, Aabar Investments.

Franz Tost, the Austrian in charge of Toro Rosso, told The National yesterday the sponsorship is "positive news" for the team, but said the communal ownership of the three companies is irrelevant.

"The sponsorship with Cepsa is very good news because before this year we have not had too many sponsors," Tost said.

"The sport is all about money and we hope some of it will now go on the technical side of the team and drive us forward a little bit."

Tost added: "We have negotiated deals with those companies and nobody else. The Cepsa deal was negotiated with people from Cepsa not from any other company within Abu Dhabi. These companies are sponsors, not investors or shareholders in the Toro Rosso team."

Reports in foreign media had suggested Abu Dhabi was preparing to acquire Toro Rosso and rebrand the marque "Team UAE" before moving the factory and the majority of its 280 staff from its base in Faenza, 50km south east of Bologna, to the UAE capital next year. Tost dismissed such rumours.

"Stories about us looking to relocate to Yas Marina Circuit are rather fanciful because apart from the practicalities that every race would be a flyaway, we have already started further expansion of our facility in Faenza," Tost said.

Nicolo Petrucci, the head of aerodynamics at Toro Rosso, said the work on next season's car is already well underway. "The design in general begins at the start of the previous season, unless there are big changes in regulations," he said.

"For example, in January or February 2011 we started thinking about 2012's car.

Tost confirmed Abu Dhabi government have held negotiations with Red Bull GmbH, but he added such discussions had nothing to do with Toro Rosso.

"There have been talks between Red Bull and Abu Dhabi about synergies and opportunities, but not connected with us at Toro Rosso," Tost said.

"I'm not talking about Red Bull Racing the team or even Red Bull the energy drinks company, but rather Red Bull [GmbH], the entity which has media, publishing, everything."

Tost was also keen to add the involvement of a second Spanish-based sponsor would play no part in the future of Jaime Alguersuari, the Spanish driver who is battling with his Swiss teammate Sebastien Buemi to retain his seat next season.

"Jaime's future with the team is exactly the same as it was before Cepsa came on board," Tost said.

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae


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